Nomadic. Storyteller. Soul searcher. Experience hungry. Music carnivore. Dreamer of better things.
Near death on the Cabin Loops trail
The Mogollon Rim always seems to have an air of mystery around it. Between dodging the herds of elk, listening for snakes and looking for bear scat, it takes a true outdoorsman to hike this area.
Or someone with a death wish. I’ll let you decide which one I am…..
I find my starting point of the cabin loops trail fairly easy, as it connects to the Arizona Trail. Research tells me that most folks do this loop over several days, but I don’t have that kind of time. After a quick, short descent, I am in front of the first cabin along the trail, and the posted map makes it look like I can complete a shorter loop around 13 miles to end up back at my original starting point. I forget to take a picture of the map though, and just get going. The first of many mistakes on this day….
The cool morning air soon is gone, and I’m shredding layers and consuming large amounts of water quickly. I have 3 liters though, so don’t think too much of it. The start of this trail is gorgeous, with running creeks through lush green meadows. My can of bear spray is bouncing lightly against my hip.
Five or six miles in and I see that the trail is washed out completely from the earlier Spring runoff. I make my way back onto the trail and keep going. It’s not even noon yet but my water supply is less than half. I should have turned around at this point…..
I come to my second cabin along the loop, and see a smattering of backcountry camping folk, most filtering water from the stream running through the meadow. The trail seems to be going in the wrong direction for me to loop back to my starting point, but I ignore all of my inner voices telling me to turn around and just push forward. I take a drink and realize that my water is almost gone…..
I push forward, and eventually come to a road, one that I had crossed miles before. I can’t decide whether to walk East or West along the road, as the trail doesn’t continue. I decide to head West…..
Water is gone at this point, and I have little shade. After a few more miles, I stumble back onto my original trail, realizing I just walked in a big circle, no closer to my car. I have at least six more miles to go, up some steep terrain, and with nothing to quench my thirst. I have to rest considerably, and can feel the grim reaper on my shoulder, dragging me downward. Feet are screaming in pain, as is my back. Head is pounding from dehydration. A small snake slithers past me, but I barely react. I’m dying.
Eighteen miles later I stumble back to the original cabin along this trail. I look emaciated. I guess today is not the day that I perish in the wilderness.